Location: WEst Coast National Park, Langebaan , S. Africa
November 20, 2010 11:28 am
We saw a few of these caterpillars in the West Coast National Park about 100kms north of Cape Town , S.Africa. It looks like a mopane worm, and is the right size for a mopane worm but from what I can gather they are not found this far south and I dont think there are any mopane trees in the Park.
Signature: Max Hopfl
We identified your caterpillar as the Pine Emperor Moth, Nudaurelia cytherea, by researching on the World’s Largest Saturniidae Site. We found information on a virus that is being used to combat infestations of the Pine Emperor Moth Caterpillar on the Science in Africa website. We also found information that the caterpillar is edible and appeared on a stamp from Uganda.
Phew, that was quick. Many thanks for the identification. I knew it couldnt be the mopane worm , gonimbrasia belina,( which is also edible and indeed a very important food source for the northern people of southern Africa: Wiki says: It is estimated that South Africa alone trades 1.6 million kilogrammes of mopane worm annually, 8 and that Botswana’s involvement in this industry nets it roughly $8 million annually) as the mopane bush doesnt come this far south. Ironically, there are no pine trees in the West Coast National Park either, but they seem to have found a tasty alternative.
Beautiful creature, dont you think.
Regards and thanks again, Max
We are very lucky that Bill Oehlke has given us access to the World’s Largest Saturniidae website, though we cannot link to it since it is a member’s only website. It is a lovely caterpillar.